Gene Vacarro, Chairman, Collier County Democrats
Q: How do you rate the governor for leadership?
A: The governor has excelled as the inherent leader of Florida’s tea party ... at the expense of all other Floridians.
Q: What are his two greatest successes?
A: 1. Getting elected despite leading Hospital Corp. of America during a time in which it pleaded guilty to 14 felony charges and paid $1.7 billion in fines; he was forced to resign from HCA. 2. His somewhat successful initial challenges against Obamacare, even after the Supreme Court upheld the law, and even in light of the fact that Florida has the second-highest rate of uninsured people in America; almost 4 million Floridians do not have health insurance.
Q: What are his two greatest failures or disappointments?
A: 1. Failure to acknowledge environmental threats to Florida’s drinking water supply and decimation of environmental oversight agencies, including cutting over $100 million from the South Florida Water Management District’s budget. 2. In a state where the economy is driven by tourism, opposition to the high-speed rail and cuts in mosquito control are threats to our economy and cost Floridians jobs.
Q: What should be his priorities for the next two years?
A: Find ways to adequately fund public education. As a native Floridian, I am embarrassed by our national rankings. Our schools and teachers have been underfunded, due in part to our cowering to the wealthy retired. Is there anything more important for the future of our state, our nation, our planet, than a new generation of highly educated thinkers? Raise my taxes; I want to contribute to our successful future.
Q: Is there any other comment on his first two years that you care to make?
A: Our state is suffering. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our confidence is waning. Speaking only for myself, I am willing to help carry the burden. I am willing to pay my fair share (and some of yours) to see our government perform as promised, to deliver those tenets we expect — the safety, health and welfare of our citizens, delivered with fairness, compassion and equality.